Do Google’s Actions Threaten Creatives Livelihoods?03 October 2016 | Steve Thirsk
As you may know, in April of this year, Getty Images filed a competition law complaint against Google in the European Union in a bid to help stop its anti-competitive scraping of imagery created by contributors like yourself. The below is from a recent Newsletter sent out by them we thought we would share -
"Since replacing thumbnails with high res image files in 2013, Google Images has gone from being the world's largest image search engine to the world's largest publisher and distributor of free imagery. However, the content Google is giving away is yours - and it's not free.
The changes that Google made to image search in 2013 means that Google keeps significant traffic that would otherwise go to the source sites, as well as all of the user data that it can then use to target advertising. Data related to image viewing is clearly valuable, as evidenced by Google's launch of shopping ads directly within its image search service in May. Meanwhile Google pays nothing for the high-quality content that it appropriates for its own benefit.
But there is more: Google does not itself host the large-format images, it instead uses the bandwidth of the source sites to host and serve those images. Google presents the image in a "frame" so that the user remains unaware it has viewed content on the content-owner's website. Google also allows users to right-click, copy and save images, and does not include prominent copyright notices or photographer attribution, thus facilitating copyright infringement and turning users into "accidental pirates."
In response to complaints, Google has suggested that photographers can simply opt-out of image search using the robots.txt protocol. Given Google's dominant market share and the fact that Google is the main gateway to the internet, its proposed solution is no solution at all: photographers can either surrender to Google's edict and accept Google's presentation of images, or become invisible online.
We are working closely with policy makers and industry groups to not only prevent Google from profiting further from your work, but to give you back control over your work, opportunity to access revenue that is rightfully yours, and ultimately, to make sure that you're competing with Google on a level playing field.
As promised, we now have a way you can support the complaint by putting your name to letters which seek the help of the U.S. Senate Antitrust Sub-Committee that has oversight of competition law in the U.S., and the head of the European Commission's Competition Authority, asking them to help put a stop to the anti-competitive scraping of your content.
Wherever you live in the world, whatever part of the visual community you contribute to, we invite you to sign both of these letters if you, like us, believe Google's actions threaten our livelihoods and the marketplace for imagery.
By signing these letters, you will be letting legislators and regulators know that they need to stand up to Google and support the hardworking photographers whose livelihood is diminishing with every day that Google is allowed to continue this practice.
It's simple and will only take a few moments. By signing on to this letter and making your voice heard, you can ensure a competitive and healthy marketplace for content creators like yourself and for future generations."